Food Avoidance Emotional Disorder (FAED) is a mental disorder generally found in children below the age of 12 years. Also known as sitophobia, this condition is different from anorexia nervosa in which people are over conscious about their weight to the extent of insanity. Diwali can be an occasion in which such patients suffer even more as sweets are offered much more in these festive days than on normal occasions. The parents of such children may need to take special care to prevent these kids from panicking on being asked for having sweets repeatedly.
The children who suffer from this disorder are aware of their severely malnourished body, and would like to put on weight but fear eating due to some other underlying aversion. Such children would often complain and give reasons for not eating such as feeling sick, not feeling hungry, fear the food to be contaminated, fear of choking or just that the food “hurts my tummy”.
Children being raised in families that have a history of some sort of physical problems such as aches and pains are more likely to suffer from FAED. This is because they are more likely to emulate the behaviour of their adults. Other than this, some sort of physical illness or disability can set in an emotional disorder which is a response to their condition.
The occasion of Diwali may well be the right time to inculcate better habits in such kids. Parents do need to take care about their kids with FAED condition with regards to keeping their panic response to a minimum, but they can also take advantage of the festive spirit to encourage the children to eat more. That would depend on how well they are able to manage their kids subliminally.
Such kids can also be suffering from selective eating. This condition often continues in adulthood, but by this time, the influence of peers begins to have an influence over their lives. This is more visible in those patients who fear selective range of foods. FAED sufferers need to be treated by identifying the feelings of the child. The parents need to play the critical role in the child’s rehabilitation. They should be aware that this condition can easily snowball into anorexia in adulthood. Although, adequate research has not been undertaken to specify the most suitable treatments, parents are advised to reach out to a therapist who can identify the feelings for the child and provide the treatment similar to somatisation disorder.
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